As all of the major news outlets have reported, on Monday confessed and convicted serial pederast Jesse Friedman - having served and completed his prison sentence - got the results back of the 3-year reinvestigation of the charges originally leveled against him. Friedman was the subject of a "documentary" a few years ago proclaiming his innocence, that all the purported victims had been hypnotized into a witch hunt and now in their adulthood have recanted. It was a very popular film - Sundance winner, Oscar nominee.
And the DA report makes clear it's a pack of bullshit and he's still guilty. They found no evidence of hypnosis. Several of the "recanting" victims maintained they had never recanted or had been misled. Other victims, and their parents, stuck by their original stories in full detail. Friedman commissioned two lie detector tests meant for his defense - and failed both. Friedman brought in a psychiatrist to evaluate him, again meant to show his innocence - and instead the official findings were that he is "a psychopathic deviant." Oh, and he was caught smuggling child porn into his jail cell.
None of that matters. Jesse Friedman is a cultural hero. Read any newspaper article on the latest report, especially one that allows reader comments - his fans, swayed by that movie, see the latest release as just another part of the hypnosis conspiracy. They all agree that his conviction should be overturned and his sex offender status reversed.
Needless to say, this offends and upsets me for several reasons. But close to the top of the list is this:
What if the man who abused me had been so socially favored? That person wasn't a rugged, telegenic 18-year-old like Friedman had been - but still, bullshit is bullshit and nothing would have stopped some amoral Hollywood con artist from making a movie that set him up as the hero. And having it... go... on... for... decades.
I know what it's like to be hoodwinked by historical fiction - I was a bit of a conspiracy kook after watching Oliver Stone's "JFK," until I learned it was by and large fantasy and distortion. And I know it's possible for near-obsessed Hollywood activist filmmakers to help overturn a miscarriage of justice - most famously the West Memphis 3 after the "Paradise Lost" series.
The victims of this confessed, convicted, and now REconvicted serial rapist are all still out there. All seeing his fanboys cheer for him, as surely as women threw themselves at Ted Bundy and how now there is a thriving subculture among Internet girls gone wild for Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
They have no voice, no side, no legions of boosters as this rapist does. Their names are shielded - and their shield muzzles them. Friedman's legal and propaganda teams have an unopposed platform to call them all hypnotized liars, to keep "fighting for justice," forever. He is financed by his fans. His lawyer works pro bono. He will keep going until he dies.
I think to myself, what if it had been me? What if I'd told, and the perp had won the fame lottery and for the rest of my life millions of people would cheer him and smear me?
I couldn't take it. I don't know what I'd do. I would not be able to deal.
"Don't think it hasn't been a little slice of heaven just because it hasn't!" --Bugs Bunny